How to Help Pets With Hip and Joint Pain
Anyone with a working dog breed understands that the switch is always in the "full speed ahead" position. If there is play involved, these sporty dogs will want to keep fetching long after your arm gives out. After years of use and abuse, dog's hips and joints can wear out. Even young dogs can show signs of pain when they push too hard. Many of the larger breeds' joints are prone to damage simply because of the weight of their bodies.
Congenital issues can also contribute to joint pain. Hip dysplasia is a joint disorder that many breeds are predisposed to. Large breeds such as the St. Bernard, Rotweillers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers often suffer from this condition. But smaller dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs and even Maine Coon cats can also be afflicted.
We know our customers are highly in tune with their pets' needs, noticing the slightest changes in their dog's behavior. This is a good thing, because dogs and cats are notorious for masking their pain and carrying on simply to please their master.
For responsive and proactive guardians, there are several supplements to help alleviate stiffness, pain and enhance mobility. Using these supplements can also prevent or minimize expensive treatments at the veterinarian's.
Keep in mind that supplements will not reverse severe structural changes in a joint such as torn cartilage, calcium deposits and advanced scar tissue. Therefore, it is important to get a veterinary examination to rule out these conditions before embarking on a supplement regimen.
Glucosamine is a naturally-occurring material found in healthy cartilage -- the tough, connective tissue that cushions the joints. It enables a dog's body to repair body tissues. As dogs age, the natural production of glucosamine in the body slows. As a result, the natural repair process in the body slows, eventually leading to joint pain and stiffness.
The ongoing wear and tear on your dog's joints, combined with the slowed repair time of the cartilage, leads to the development of painful arthritis. Thankfully, research has found that supplementing dogs (and humans) with glucosamine can help rebuild cartilage. This can improve mobility.
Glucosamine also has an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to reduce pain. Side effects are uncommon with this natural supplement. Because this is actually repairing and improving lubrication in your dog's joints, pain medications use may be reduced. This is important since pain meds simply mask the pain. Simply covering the pain may cause dogs to damage themselves further. Additionally, pain medications often do have side effects, unlike glucosamine.
Chondroitin also occurs naturally as a major component of cartilage. Chondroitin helps keep cartilage healthy by absorbing fluid (particularly water) into the connective tissue. It may also block enzymes that break down cartilage, and it provides the building blocks for the body to produce new cartilage. When paired with glucosamine, chondroitin has an even more beneficial effect on your dog's joints.
MSM, also known as methyl-sulfonyl-methane, has been touted as an anti-inflammatory agent that allows muscles to heal and decreases pain in dogs. MSM supplements are also used for digestive disorders, arthritis, allergies, eye problems and inflammation. We've noticed that some of our Hip & Joint formulas have stopped including this ingredient, however. This may be due to the fact that scientific studies aren't backing up the hype. There have also been rare occurrences of side effects and allergies with this supplement as well.
As MSM is a naturally-occuring material in the body, if your pet has had good results with this supplement, there is no need to discontinue it.
This funny-sounding supplement comes from mussels, a shellfish found off the coast of New Zealand. Scientific studies have shown significant pain relief and increased mobility in dogs (and humans) when Green Lipped Mussel supplements are given. Green Lipped Mussels are a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamins and minerals. Green Lipped Mussel has proven anti-inflammatory benefits for dogs with arthritis. Many of our Hip and Joint supplements have started incorporating this ingredient into their formulas.
Hyaluronic acid, or sodium hyaluronate, is an important component of joint fluid. It has been found to increase the thickness of the joint fluid, which offers more of a cushioning effect for the joint. Hyaluronic acid also inhibits damaging enzymes as well as increasing the body's own production of sodium hyaluronate. This supplement has been successfully used in horses both orally and through injections directly into the joint space.
We carry a wide variety of products to increase mobility and comfort for your pets. Some are powders to be sprinkled over food, some are treats, and some are chewable pills. Keep in mind that these the dosage is based on size, so more concentrated forms such as maximum-strength pills will be more effective for larger breeds. Usually the initial dose is higher until relief is noted. This may take a couple of weeks or even a month. After pain and mobility issues have improved, then the dose goes to a lower maintenance dose.
Some of these products can be used for cats, but be sure to read the descriptions or talk to our customer service representatives for questions on our supplements.
Though many of these formulas were developed by veterinarians, always check with your own vet when using any supplements, as even natural products can interact with other medications.
Have you had success with supplements either for yourself or your pets?
Photo by Bill Harrison.